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Self-Healing with Living Medicine

by Gitte Lassen(more info)

listed in naturopathy, originally published in issue 178 - January 2011

Shifting Paradigms

Anne Wilson Schaef,[1] a pioneer in exploring a different way of living, says the dysfunction of our society is a cultural, spiritual disease caused by living in a materialistic, mechanistic society that at the core sees people as things, not human beings to be respected.


The mechanistic paradigm underlies allopathic medicine (and all other sciences). While allopathic medicine has brought many victories, today it is becoming more evident that it is not the 'cure-all' we have been taught to believe it is.

Definition Of Paradigm

  • A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline;
  • The prevailing view of things;
  • A way of looking at the world out of which thoughts, feelings and actions arise.

Jeremiah D McAuliffe Jr[2] writes: "...the paradigm under which we operate will determine not only how we understand things, but our choice of which things to observe, and our development of methods and tools that will aid our observation. When you change the paradigm under which you operate, you will change not only how you understand what it is you are observing, but you will also change what objects you choose to observe as well as the methods and tools you use to help discipline your observation. Science does not give us knowledge in the strict sense of the word. Science gives us a particular understanding of the world from within a particular paradigm—and paradigms change!"

The Mechanistic Paradigm


  • Sees everything in terms of a machine, including human beings;
  • Everything can be understood in terms of it's parts (reductionism);
  • To fix the whole you fix the parts.

Isaac Newton is the Father of the mechanistic paradigm, which holds that everything is like a machine. This paradigm became the basic worldview of the western world. It has guided our society and has been underlying all science and research since the days of Newton. Jeremiah D McAuliffe Jr writes: "When a scientist decides to observe some phenomenon he or she will approach the phenomenon with the understanding that it will be similar in its actions to a machine. Hundreds of years after Newton, the mechanistic paradigm guides not only scientific understanding, but imbues popular understanding as well. For instance, way back when I was in eighth grade a friend of mine did a project comparing the human body to an (car) engine. Each body part, the function of each organ, had a corresponding part with a similar function in the engine. You can't get a much more mechanistic understanding of the phenomenon that is the human body than that!"

It is important to understand, not only from a physical health point of view, but for life on Earth in general, that the mechanistic paradigm, which has been underlying all thinking processes, all sciences, and all applications of knowledge of the last few hundred years, has been causing alienation between people and destruction of our world.

Looking at the mechanistic paradigm in terms of medicine, we see that it has expressed itself in a separation of body from mind and spirit, mind from body and spirit and spirit from body and mind. The mechanistic paradigm ignores the inter-relatedness of every part of our body, how each organ functions in a relationship and not in a vacuum, and ignores the person as a whole body-mind-spirit being. The mechanistic paradigm is the source of the alienation between doctor and patient: A doctor sees you as an object that needs fixing, but is otherwise not interested in you ('professional detachment').

The mechanistic paradigm gave birth to the 'magic bullet' phenomena: If we can just get the right combination of chemistry in our magic pill for our symptom, the whole of us will become well. Pharmaceuticals, of course, are the 'magic bullets'. Pharmaceuticals are technology applied to fix a broken part.

Looking deeper into the mechanistic paradigm of modern, western medicine we see how it disempowers people: When machines break down, they do not repair themselves from the inside; they must be repaired from the outside, by someone else. This is the foundation of our cultural belief that we do not have it within our own power to heal ourselves. Our cultural mechanistic belief is that we need doctors and technology (includes pharmaceuticals) to diagnose problems, cure disease, and repair dysfunctioning bodies, minds and spirits from the outside. We even believe that a machine can tell us what is wrong with us - the 'fancier' the machine, the more we unquestionably believe the results. (What is unfortunately often overlooked is that those 'results' are often interpretations rather than facts!)

Mechanistic medicine relies heavily on technology and is intolerant of alternative forms of healing. Mechanistic medicine is autocratic: the doctor knows what's best.

The Humanistic Paradigm

Fortunately, there is a shift away from a rigid mechanistic approach to a more humanistic approach.

Being more compassionate and people-oriented than the mechanistic paradigm of medicine and health care, the humanistic paradigm sees the body as an organism rather than a machine. The doctor exists and works in a relationship with the patient, is aware of the body-mind connection and understands that there is often underlying issues influencing the health problems. Doctor and patient share responsibility and decision-making. Further characteristics of the humanistic paradigm are compassionate care and openness to other natural healing modalities.

The Holistic Paradigm


  • Sees systems as complex, including human beings;
  • Parts cannot be understood out of context of the whole. Parts co-exist and co-function as interrelated and integral of the whole;
  • The parts reflect the whole;
  • To fix the parts you fix the whole.

Robbie Davis-Floyd[3] says: "The holistic paradigm moves far beyond the narrow view of the body-as-machine, past the humanistic view of the body as an organism, all the way to a limitless view of the body as energy. Defining the body as an energy system provides a powerful charter for the development and use of forms of medicine and treatment that work energetically such as acupuncture, homeopathy, intuitive diagnosis, Reiki, hands-on healing, magnetic field therapy, and therapeutic touch. ...Seeing the person as an energy system, intuition becomes a respected source of additional information."...Where the techno-medical model is rigid and separatist, the holistic model recognizes no sharp divisions or distinct boundaries."

Holistic healing is healing the whole person in the context of his or her whole life. The whole person in whole life context is the physical body as well as the energetic, psychological, emotional, spiritual, social aspects of the individual.

In the holistic paradigm, the uniqueness of each client (no longer a patient) is recognized, as is the need for personalized, individualized guidance and treatment on all levels, be it physical, emotional, spiritual, energetic or social. The holistic paradigm recognizes that each client has within himself or herself the ability to facilitate his or her own healing, as well as the knowledge on how to do it. It is inclusive of other modalities and uses technology as only one of many options. It recognizes that true healing is often a long-term process as opposed to the mechanistic paradigm of medicine that is often focused on short-term results. In the holistic paradigm both therapist and client are open to explore a variety of healing methods.

Another main element of the holistic paradigm is that if you fix the whole, the parts will be fixed as well. Each part reflects the whole, and true health can only exist when the whole is healthy. For example, a Naturopath, rather than only targeting the physical symptoms, will create a treatment that emphasizes strengthening the immune system and support of the eliminative channels. Or, in another example, in the case of depression, look into possible physical, psychological and energetic causes.

Finally, the holistic paradigm in medicine places the responsibility for healing where it rightly belongs - In the hands of the client. You can only heal yourself. True healing is Self-healing.

Cure versus Healing
 Passive  Active
 Responsibility for health in  practitioners' hands  Responsibility for health in patients' hands
 Eliminates symptoms  Eliminates cause
 Outside-in  Inside-out
 Lifestyle remains the same  Lifestyle changes
   Personal growth

Caroline Myss[4] writes: "Healing and curing are not the same thing. A 'cure' occurs when someone has successfully controlled or abated the physical progression of an illness, curing a physical illness. However, this does not necessarily mean that the emotional and psychological stresses that were a part of the illness were also alleviated. In this case it is highly possible, and often probable, that an illness will recur." (Note: Some people switch the meaning of the words 'cure' and 'healing' and some use them interchangeably).

Curing is passive. The patients delegates responsibility and decision making power to the doctor, expecting facts and a God-like knowledge from the doctor on how to cure his/her health problem. (An interesting fact is that today many patients are more knowledgeable about their own specific health condition than the doctor, thanks to the internet.)

Healing, on the other hand, is active. The client accepts full responsibility for his or her health condition and makes his or her own decisions regarding healing procedures and modalities guided by the therapist. The client also accepts that true healing is life-style changing, as well as Self-changing. In essence, there is no true healing without a profound transformation.

Killing versus Living Medicine

The language of western medicine is a language of war. Gladys T McGarey[8] recounts: "I was telling my friend that it seemed to me that medicine had become a killing machine; its major purpose seemed to be a war on disease. The focus is on killing bacteria, eradicating AIDS, eliminating cancer, controlling diabetes, etc. .... If we are going to do this killing, we need ammunition, and the ammunition in the field of medicine is primarily drugs."

Doctors are engaged in a war battling the enemy in their patient's body (or the body itself). The focus is on the disease and what particular weapon is needed to 'win the battle', if not the war. Thus the focus is not on the patient as a unique human being but rather on the body as a combination of physical components at war with each other.

In contrast, natural and alternative therapies respect the client (not patient) as an individual with a complex mental-physical-spiritual-social reality. As therapists and naturopaths aim to support their clients return to their birthright of radiant health, they choose life-supporting and life-enhancing remedies and treatments. They choose living medicine, not killing medicine!

"Our focus needs to change from killing to helping enhance the life process of each individual. If we do this, we're going to need living materials such as living air, living earth, living water, and living food", Gladys T McGarey.

Living Medicine is 'medicine' that emphasizes life-positive processes. Primarily, these are natural remedies in their pure natural form, i.e. with minimal processing and no additives of components the body is unable to digest (this includes many supplements).

Harking back 100 years or more, the use of living medicine was probably at its most popular with many Nature Cure sanatoriums around the world. Using natural living medicines such as natural and raw foods, water therapies, massages, exercise and more, they achieved astonishing results of healing/cure that allopathic medicine of today can only be envious of.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians state: "The healing power of nature is the inherent self-organizing and healing process of living systems, which establishes, maintains and restores health. Naturopathic medicine recognizes this healing process to be ordered and intelligent." (Emphasis by author)

The truth is that nature's living medicine works with the body's own healing processes, rather than against them, as is often the case with allopathic medicine. Nature's remedies know what to do in the body, and the body recognizes nature' remedies and knows what to do with them. This is a basic commonsensical observation, as humankind has evolved as integral part of nature over millions of years. We have become separated from nature too recently to have had the time to evolve into non-natural beings. It therefore stands to reason that all non-natural medicine is less than life-enhancing; indeed 'killing', whereas all natural living medicines are the ones that will bring about a restoration to radiant holistic health.

Whenever nature has been interfered with, such as in using fertilizer and pesticides as well as being processed and having chemicals added, nature becomes life-diminishing rather than life-enhancing. This is true for medicines as well as food.

Furthermore, there is a growing understanding that no true holistic health is possible without nature. Nature Deficit Disorder and Eco-therapy are two conceptual ways of looking at the damage that happens in the holistic human being when separated from nature.


The term Self-Healing points to the fact that the responsibility for your healing is with you and that only you can heal yourself. It places the responsibility firmly where it truly belongs, in the hands of the client.

Self-healing encourages a journey of growth and transformation through self-observation and increased self-knowledge. This journey includes explorations and healings on all levels of a client's life in the quest for whole life harmony.

The philosophy of the unity of cure and disease states that all diseases are caused by the same thing - a deviance from a healthy way of living - and all cure is facilitated by the same - a return to a healthy way of living. The healthy way of living is nature's way.

Ideally, everyone would recognize that lifestyle choices, whether diet, professional life, emotional suppression or something else, was what caused the lack of holistic health. With this recognition, the power of choice is back where is belongs - in the hands of the client - and all that remains is to make different choices.

Global evolution in terms of financial depression, causing increasing costs of healthcare (and according to some a coming collapse of government funded healthcare systems), and industry and technology induced climate change, is making it imperative that we return to a more commonsensical way of health care.

This must include each person taking responsibility for his or her own health rather than dumping in on future taxpayers (old-age healthcare is paid for by a younger generation) as well as the use of life- and Earth-friendly medicines.

Final Words

As co-director of the holistic, naturopathic School of Health Mastery I am privileged to have a wonderful opportunity to teach true holistic health. We, the directors, firmly believe that living medicine is superior to 'killing' medicine, although, as we live and teach by the holistic paradigm, we also acknowledge that there is a right time and place for the application of allopathic medicine, especially in acute emergencies.

From the very entrance into the school our students are faced with their own physical and emotional self-healing. Indeed, their very first teaching module consists of a personal program of physical and emotional Self-healing developed by the directors of the school. This program includes many of the things that the student will learn later in classes, thus, from the very beginning, acquiring an embodied knowledge of the truth of what the school teaches. Our aim is that by the conclusion of the study all students will be living examples of what we teach.

In the school, we focus on teaching health as opposed to disease. We use only living medicines, from raw vegan foods and herbs, to essential oil and flower essences to energy awareness and healing. We include emotional healing and personal growth in the curriculum. The final class in our school with a weeklong retreat that includes living foods, naturopathy, personal growth experiences, silent days and nature connecting ceremonies, giving all students an opportunity to dive deeply into holistic Self-healing.

Please note that poor people do not often have the luxury of choice when it comes to lifestyle and healthcare.


1.     Wilson Schaef A. Living in Process. Ballantine Wellspring. 1998.
2.     McAuliffe Jr JD. Why we don't understand what the word 'spirituality' means anymore.  
3.     Davis-Floyd R. The Technocratic, Humanistic, and Holistic Paradigms of Childbirth. Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. 75-supplement No. 1:S5-S23. November 2001.
4.     Myss C. Anatomy of the spirit. Three Rivers Press. 1996.
5.     Hay L. Heal your body. Hay House Inc. 1988.
6.     Truman KK. Feelings buried alive never die. Olympus Distributing. 2009.
7.     Wright H. A more excellent way. Pleasant Valley Publications. 2009.
8.     Pallasdowney R. The complete book of flower essences. New World Library. 2002.


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About Gitte Lassen

Gitte Lassen works as a multi-dimensional codependence therapist as well as co-directing and teaching in the holistic, living medicine School of Health Mastery in Iceland (Heilsumeistaras- kólinn). The school has received official recognition from the Icelandic Ministry of Education

Her website for codependence therapy, in English, is www.positivepowerliving
. The school's website, primarily in English although the home page, and some other information is in Icelandic, is Gitte may be contacted via


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